I visited the Imperial War Museum North last weekend, in Salford. There was a display on Edith Cavell, the British nurse tried for treason by the German army in 1915 for helping British soldiers to escape from occupied Belgium. She was shot at dawn by an eight-man firing squad. Her death caused an international outcry and did little to help Germany's reputation.
Cavell was a committed Anglican, and two of the things she said the night before her death are worthy of remembrance:
"Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred bitterness towards anyone."
Loving one's country must not become nationalism, the hatred of foreigners. The Christian's citizenship is in heaven, not on earth. Consequently, we must not harbour ill-feeling to even our nation's enemies.
"Tell my loved ones later on that my soul, as I believe, is safe, and that I am glad to die for my country."
The Christian's soul is always safe, even when a firing squad is about to release it from its body. Death is a relief and a joy, not a terror to be avoided.
The picture above is a modern artist's depiction of the sufferings caused by war. It's a corrupted cross with spines and growths, prickly and sharp. It has an industrial quality to it, and appears to be out of control.